One of Hollywood's most famous faces, Tommy Lee Jones is best known for his dryly taciturn portrayals of law-enforcement officials, military men, and cowboys. Although Jones did not start acting professionally until his early 30s, he has appeared in close to a hundred movies and TV shows, often in starring roles.
Adored by audiences and critics alike, the actor's movies have brought in nearly $3 billion at the box office, while he's personally received a sheaf of awards, including being nominated four times for an Academy Award, which he won in 1993 for Best Supporting Actor. His other notable awards include a Golden Globe Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. When not making blockbuster movies, the eighth-generation Texan, whose father was an oil field worker, breeds cattle and horses on a ranch three miles from where he was born.
A talented athlete and student, Jones cut his thespian teeth after winning a scholarship to Harvard University in the mid-1960s. It was an auspicious beginning for someone as ambitious and determined as Jones. His roommate for all four years at Harvard was Al Gore, future vice president of the country. Characterized by his classmates as "intense" and "a force of nature," Jones became a star player on the Harvard football team, playing all four years for the Crimson. He also loved drama and performed in a number of school productions, most notably playing the lead in Shakespeare's Coriolanus. And in 1969, after writing an honors thesis on Flannery O'Connor, Jones graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
Even with all of his money and fame, Jones has remained very much tied to the apron strings of his alma mater. Over the years, the legendary actor has been involved with many projects and goings-on at Harvard. In particular, Jones has invested significant time and energy into The Harvard Film Archive, hoping to help turn the organization into the biggest film assemblage in the country.
Of his many visits, 2012 saw the Oscar-winning actor back on campus to receive the Harvard Arts Medal — an award given annually to alumni of Harvard or Radcliffe for their achievements in the arts. Speaking at the ceremony, Jones carefully explained why he's never lost touch with his roots. "My experience here [as a Harvard student] is the best thing that's happened in my creative life, and the reason for that is not simply what I learned, but that I learned how to learn, and I will be grateful for that as long as I live."
On top of that, the Oscar-winning actor has consistently returned to the prestigious Cambridge campus to reunite with his former football buddies, who throw a traditional dinner every other year at Harvard, the place where a young boy from Texas found his way into cinema history.